San Diego sets up Vikings' stadium leverage

The San Diego Chargers are passing the leverage hammer to the Vikings for this legislative session. The Chargers said on Wednesday that they would remain in the city for the 2011 season, taking away their immediate opportunity to move to Los Angeles and keeping that market open as leverage for the Vikings.

It might be the shot fired across the bow of the Minnesota State Legislature.

It may have come from the City of San Diego, where Chargers fans, much like Vikings fans, are terrified that they are going to lose their team to Los Angeles, which is ramping up its efforts to get an NFL franchise in the city.

The Chargers have an escape clause in their contract with the city that could be opted out of as early as next season. On Wednesday, the team informed San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders that it would remain in San Diego for the 2011 season. Just as rumors have begun that the Vikings are being lured by the syndicate of Los Angeles businessmen trying to secure a franchise in search of a new stadium, the rumor mill has been running at an even higher speed that the Chargers would just move up the coast.

What the Chargers did Wednesday was epic from a business standpoint. By deferring the kick to the second half, the Chargers organization put the ball in the hands of Minnesota. The Vikings lease at the Metrodome is set to expire after next season and the belief is that, if a stadium deal isn't passed in the 2011 session of the Legislature, the Vikings may exercise their freedom to move the franchise. While Zygi Wilf has steadfastly maintained his pledge that he won't move the Vikings out of Minnesota, much like the state waited until the Minnesota Twins announced that they were willing to contract themselves and fail to exist, the potential of the Vikings going away is very real and the time for stalling – which the state has done since Red McCombs first pushed the issue in 1998 – is over.

The one-year commitment to stay in San Diego improves the Chargers' leverage in a fashion similar to taking your opponent's queen in chess. There is very little downside. If the Vikings get a stadium deal done in the 2011 Legislature, the Chargers become the only viable option to move to Los Angeles. If the Vikings don't get a deal, the Chargers are still likely the more attractive option to Los Angeles, given the built-in California fan base and the feeling that the Wilf family likely doesn't want to cede too much team power and authority outside their current ownership group to the Los Angeles group building the stadium.

Much like the Vikings, the Chargers have underachieved on the field, but the wheels are always turning in the front office and, in this game of franchise Russian Roulette, the Chargers just put the gun to their head, heard a "click" and have passed it to the Vikings.


  • Six Vikings missed practice Wednesday – Brett Favre (ankle/chest/shoulder), Percy Harvin (migraines), Chris Cook (knee), Ray Edwards (ankle), Tyrell Johnson (knee) and Joe Webb (hamstring).

  • Steve Hutchinson, who last week missed his first game since his rookie season, when he broke his leg and missed 12 games, was back in practice on a limited basis Wednesday testing his fractured thumb.

  • Running back Ahmad Bradshaw (wrist) and OT Shawn Andrews (back) missed practice Wednesday for the Giants.

  • While Bradshaw and Andrews were out, injured wide receivers Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks returned to practice on a limited basis, along with offensive lineman David Diehl.

  • Joseph Conway, the attorney for former Jets game-day hostess Jenn Sterger, said that the investigation of Favre in the infamous texting scandal is complete and in the hands of Commissioner Roger Goodell. Goodell is scheduled to attend the Vikings-Bears game Dec. 20.

  • Fran Tarkenton will be attending next week's celebration of the top 50 Vikings players of all time. Tarkenton hasn't been a regular attendee to alumni events.

  • Viking Update Top Stories